another batik

STRATA – batik on cotton, 100 x 147 cm. (39″ x 58″), 1981

In the previous post about batiks and in the conversation with commenters, I recalled a commissioned batik hanging I’d done. Marly’s question about it inspired me to hunt and luckily find the only photo I think I have of it. It is not a good photograph, lacking sharpness and taken hanging in front of a window to utilize some bright backlighting, and thus revealing a shadow from the window frame running down on the right of the tree. Askew too, but straightened thanks to photo-editing software. Fortunately I’d written a wee bit of information (size, date) on the back of the photo… which leads to my next observation.

All this digging out and revisiting of older works this past few weeks has reminded me about how negligent I used to be in my early years regarding documentation of my work with high quality photographs and slides along with written material about the techniques and materials used, sizes, dates, and even ownership if sold. I think I was not taking myself and my work seriously enough. As a serious artist, even as a craftsperson which I felt to be with batiking, I should have been professional enough to keep proper records.

Later, when I joined the Art Institute program at Capilano University, I learned all about this and have been quite meticulous with my record-keeping. In fact, those records are extremely handy when I need to look up information about a piece of work without having to pull it out of storage…. to measure it, for instance. The biggest challenge for me was achieving good slides, then the expense in having duplicates made for submissions to juries. Nowadays I’m very grateful for much improved digital photography and computer technology and that digital files are accepted everywhere (that took a while, too).



Needing a break from all the ‘spring projects’ and while waiting for the fumes of varnish to dissipate, I felt the call of my studio. Impulsively I delved into the bottom drawer of my old wooden flat files where I keep a variety of work from other artists, part of my collection, and some small older works of my own. I found these two batiks that I had made in the early 80’s. I have few left from those days when I was really ‘into it’ for a few years. Many were given as gifts or sold. It is kind of interesting, if even a wee bit embarrassing, for me to look back on these pieces, and to show them here. It has me remembering that time in my life when I was an at-home mother before I returned to printmaking. I still have those supplies stored somewhere but have not done any more batiking since then.


UPDATE, 11:00 am May 29th, 2012: Suddenly remembering some posts I had written on batiking back in 2006, I searched and found three about Annabel Carey’s beautifully made and researched batik art based on the stone circles around the UK. As you know, ancient stones are a favourite subject of mine. (My examples here do not compare!) It is an interesting story if you would like to visit/revisit these links in their order of appearance:
a batik exhibition
update on batik show
more on Annabel Carey’s Spirit of the Stones

portrait studies



It’s a slow but enriching process to go through rolls of one’s old drawings, long ignored, poorly stored and in need of photo documentation. I am finding many from 1982 and 1983, years in which I attended some excellent life-drawing classes as an audit student at a local college – just because I missed and craved it but didn’t need the credit. Above are some ‘head studies’ as they were called. Below are smaller studies in pencil with a note on each: ‘perspective head study’. Can you see the faint diagonal lines on the first one below?



more drawings




I am continuing to go through some rolls of old life drawings and document a few of them. The one on the top here was rolled next to the first drawing I showed yesterday and seems to be of the same model. The lower two drawings are from a roll which does have a date: September 1983.

The light in my studio is not as bright as I wish with our rainy and cloudy days at present so there are strange shadows here and there, some revealing the curves in the paper from being rolled up for so long, even streaks from light exposure coming in at the end of the roll. Though I tried to fix them as best as I could, I rather like the aged look, even if these are not such professional photos.

I know, I should wait for better light conditions but I’m eager to carry on with the tidying and organizing before I lose interest. There are decisions to be made – which to keep, which to discard, and how to store these more safely. Hmm, I do have some new large tubes with end caps and some acid free liner paper to wrap them in. No room in the flat files, sorry, those are reserved for my prints.


studio update


As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have been reorganizing and cleaning my small home studio to make room for a very large set of used flat files which I’d finally found after years of searching. What a job! Though not finished, the studio is looking much better and my editions have a clean, flat, accessible home, except for one over-sized edition which is staying in its porfolio for now. Though the file cabinet is too high as a working surface, it provides much-needed space to spread out my papers, such as many print proofs, thus leaving the table top free to work on.

It was interesting to revisit my older work as I was organizing them into the drawers. I have now made a start at some of the many rolls of life-drawings on newsprint, stashed in tall boxes in a former bedroom/storage room. Most of these were done in the 70’s and early 80’s when I attended various life-drawing workshops. Drawing and especially life drawing was my favourite class back in art school where we had two days a week of it (you don’t see that anymore in most art schools). What I’ve kept of those are probably somewhere in the bowels of the crawlspace under the house. Being newsprint, these are yellowed, fragile, torn and hard to unroll flat, but I am going to try to photo document some of the better ones. Here is the first, a fairly quick though imperfect study:


Inspiration hit me a couple of days ago, from admiring my clean studio, the pile of proofs and from Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkin’s blog. Clive frequently makes wonderful maquettes for his various projects which he so generously shows readers. Recently he put out a call for readers to make their own and submit them to him to feature on May 1st. I have never made any and had no plans to start at this time, but the other day, Clive’s post on artist Jodi le Bigre’s stunning maquette must have left a deep impression on me, for lo! I suddenly started cutting up some of my collagraph proofs to create the figure below. It is not a maquette for the paper is too light and I had no appropriate fastenings, but I had fun! I’m not sure what will happen to this creature, maybe it will become a maquette yet, though of course too late for Clive.


Added May 4th: As I wrote later, my maquette in other poses made it into the five-part online exhibition of maquettry hosted by Clive Hicks-Jenkins on his Artlog!

on art theft

The Globe and Mail has a fascinating and informative article on international art crimes that are happening even in Canada, and how one Canadian lawyer is working to educate collectors and police on how to deal with it. Thanks to Arts News Canada.

sun fading of art works


Most people are probably aware of the power of sunlight in fading the colours of carpets, upholstery and drapes. I wonder how many realize the sun’s effect on the art work on the walls. Now we can see for ourselves in this very revealing article by Thomas Crossland: Sun-Fading and UV-Glass Experiment.

Thanks to Julio at BarenForum, a woodblock printmakers’ group blog, for pointing out this link.

I have been told that plexiglass offers some protection. I have a print of my own framed with plexiglass on a wall that does get some sun on it in the late afternoon some times of the year, and it has faded in the decade it’s been there. I think now there is a better grade plexiglass available, which may be more protective. It would be very interesting to see this kind of test to prove out the claim. Have you noticed how many museums display very old works under very dim lighting?

If you want to know more about caring for the art on your walls, including photographs, check out my earlier piece as well as the excellent Wilhelm Imaging Research.

Copyright Infringement

Anna L. Conti, a San Francisco artist and art blogger, has had one of her works copied and then put up for sale on eBay by a fraud artist. This is an infringement of copyright, like having your work plagiarized. Read her June 28th entry as she explains why this is important to an artist and to buyers. I will be following closely her updates to see how the issue is resolved, really hoping that it will not become a costly legal battle like one artist friend of mine went through.

UPDATE JUNE 29: Anna has set up a special page eBay Art Fraud. Read and be warned and be aware!

Related links:
CARCC (Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective Inc) is a copyright collective that licenses and administers copyright for visual and media artists in Canada
Canadian Copyright Act
myths about copyright

the care of art

Art Addict writes an interesting blog about collecting art and has posted several useful articles on the handling, cleaning and displaying of artworks, and a recommended book on the subject.

Kerry at Art Myth writes about the proper care of oil paintings and offers some interesting and useful links about art conservation.

I’d like to add another important consideration in the care of artworks, those that are done on paper, and that concerns the archival issues: are the materials stable and permanent? We know what happens to newsprint which is not acid-free and yellows and deteriorates quickly. Old books are another example. From my own experience as an artist who works mostly on paper, I have sometimes found a lack of understanding amongst some buyers and even some framers about the archival concerns of handling artworks on paper. When I sell an unframed print I try to give a mini-lesson on this issue and encourage using a reputable framer and requesting archival (acid-free) matting and mounting materials.

The choice of acid free papers, adhesives and other materials are really part of the artist’s decision-making right from the beginning, whether making prints, drawings, watercolours, collages, or handmade books. When inkjet printing became popular for everyone, new demands arose. At first it was difficult to find archival papers and inks, but there are many choices available now. Have you thought about what your inkjet photos are printed on? Is your photo album archival? My old ones are not, unfortunately, as it was not a well known issue until recently.

Check out the wealth of information at Wilhelm Imaging Research. They have been conducting intensive tests on traditional papers for many years and “research on the stability and preservation of traditional and digital color photographs and motion pictures. The company publishes brand name-specific permanence data for desktop and large-format inkjet printers and other digital printing devices. Wilhelm Imaging Research also provides consulting services to museums, archives, and commercial collections on sub-zero cold storage for the very long term preservation of still photographs and motion pictures.”

Opus Framing and Art Supplies
provides how-to resources in PDF format on their website. Check out the following helpful articles: Why Frame your Art Work, Notes on Hinging and Digital Fine Art Papers.

No, I’m not promoting any companies here, just their useful information, in the hopes of extending some knowledge about these issues. Of course, there are many artists who are not concerned with the permanence of their works, impermanence sometimes being a statement in itself, and that is fine, as long as the buying public understands these issues.